We have all heard, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7), and it usually is spoken with a negative connotation, but there is also a positive side to sowing: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (6:9).
A parable is a story that illustrates a truth and in the parable of the talents, Jesus focuses primarily on the good side of sowing, which is sowing to the Spirit to reap life everlasting.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them” (Matthew 25:14-19).
Briefly, the parable deals with a man who entrusted three servants with differing amounts of money to steward while he was on a trip. When he returned, he found that two of his servants had invested their money and made a profit while the third had merely buried his money for safekeeping. The master was pleased with the first two and very displeased with the third.
Jesus is “the man traveling to a far country” (25:14), and we are the servants with the talents representing our measure of grace and revelation of Jesus. We are commanded to go out and sow this revelation. This parable shows that God will have a fruitful, glorious harvest at the end. Two out of the three servants will come before the judgment loaded with fruit and full of joy — good and faithful servants — and the third will be banished.
Beloved, I encourage you to examine your heart and then become a part of God’s last-day army! He will have a last-day harvest, and only willing, faithful servants of the Lord will be part of this great gathering.
“Then He said to them, ‘Take heed that you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him’” (Mark 4:24-25).
Jesus knew his words would sound strange to nonspiritual ears so he prefaced the message by saying, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” (4:23). He was saying, in essence, “If your heart is open to God’s Spirit, you’ll understand what I have to say to you.” Jesus is speaking of the glory of God in our lives, Christ’s manifest presence. In short, the Lord measures out his glorious presence in various amounts, whether to churches or individuals.
Jesus alone was given the Holy Spirit without measure: “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure” (John 3:34). The Lord has already allotted to each of us a measure of his Spirit. Paul writes, “To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Ephesians 4:7) and “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3).
What is God’s goal in measuring out his Spirit, his glory and presence, to us in varying amounts? He has a single purpose, that “… we all come to the unity of the faith … to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
Today, cry out to Jesus, “I don’t want to miss what you’re about to do in your church.” As you give to your Savior a greater measure of yourself, you will see evidence everywhere of his presence, glory and love. He has promised to pour out his Spirit on his people in these last days, and he will be faithful to come to you and give you more of himself.
In John 2, Jesus enters the temple for an act that would signal the beginning of his public ministry. What takes place next is quite dramatic:
“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’” (John 2:13-17).
What Jesus does here is more than radical. Tell me, if you wanted to announce your ministry, would you go into a megachurch and start turning over tables and driving people away? Jesus was up to more here than just showing his authority. He was demonstrating that he was about to turn things upside down in every way.
Yet when Jesus began this upheaval, he was overturning more than the moneychangers’ trade. He was overturning a religious system that for millennia had relied on animal sacrifices to please God. Christ was stating in essence, “Your relationship to the Father will no longer be based on sacrifices of sheep and goats and doves. It’s going to be based on my once-for-all-time sacrifice for you.”
That scene in the temple offers an analogy for our time. A lot of congregations today are filled with noise and activity. They have many programs in place, from overseas mission trips to local outreaches to dozens of small fellowship groups. The worship services can be full of bright lights, powerful sound and amazing energy. Yet sometimes amid all this lively activity something is missing at the center: Jesus himself.
I’m not suggesting we start turning over book tables in church foyers. But without Christ as the focus of our activities, our church is dead. No matter how hard we work to do things that serve and honor his name, none of our “sacrifices” in themselves can achieve true kingdom results. From the outside our fellowship may look righteous, but if we don’t maintain a focus on Jesus we’ll be a church full of dead men’s bones.
As Jesus overturned all those tables he cried out, “Take these things away!” (John 2:16). Likewise today, our temples are to be cleansed of anything that takes the place of his rightful lordship. God sends Jesus to rid us of those things, to prepare room for the things he wants to fill us with. He wants our temple to be once again a house of prayer, faith and kingdom victory.
“When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me” (Matthew 8:5-9).
The scripture goes on to describe how Jesus marveled at the great faith of this man. In fact, he told the man that he had never seen such great faith, such great conviction, persuasion and confidence. Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you” (8:13). The man’s servant was healed in the same hour!
In the Old Testament, we see Elijah, a man of great faith and Christ-like compassion. There had been a drought in Israel for a very long time, and Elijah began to cry out to the Lord to send rain upon the land. He was so confident God would send rain that he proclaimed, “There is the sound of abundance of rain” (18:41). Then Elijah told his servant, “‘Go up now, look toward the sea.’ So he went up, looked and said, ‘There is nothing.’ Seven times, Elijah said, ‘Go again’ (18:43). All the while, Elijah contended in prayer until “there was a heavy rain” (18:45).
We go through seasons of drought, times when God says, “Go again; pray again; stand again; release again; love again; trust again; surrender again; worship again; praise him again!” True faith celebrates the rain drops before the abundance of rain comes.
Jesus marveled in wonder and joy at the faith of the centurion at Capernaum. God rewarded Elijah’s faith and patience with a mighty downpour. So do not give up on God’s promises to you. Ask God for strength to “go again” and again and again until your answer comes.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
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If you want to walk as Jesus walked, you can't allow your human passions to be inflamed by headlines. Christ died for every lost soul on this earth! Right now, our jails are filled with convicts who have become powerful witnesses of the saving love of Jesus, all because somebody loved them in spite of their sins.
Are you loving others in spite of how they may have hurt you, someone you care about or simply because they might be different than you? There are few things that make you more like Christ than when you sacrificially love someone, especially someone not in your circle or easy to naturally be around.
You can know you're growing in grace if you're able to pray for those whom the world hates. As we hear of terrible things happening, we're to stand against every prejudice that rises up in us, and declare, "I take Christ's authority over this. I will love humankind as my Lord did."